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Cohabitation or Not? Some might say living with your boyfriend before being married is sort of like taking a car for a test drive. You might find out that you don't like the car or the boyfriend and return it. On the other hand, it seems as though your boyfriend would have the best of all possible worlds: you exclusively and no commitment.
So it would seem there are both positives and negatives to living together before marriage. Statistically, it is becoming increasingly more popular for couples to live together sometimes for years before they actually marry. In the past, think 1950s even 1960s, there was a stigma for a woman to live together with a man outside of marriage. It became a moral issue and sometimes a religious issue as well. It was thought " sinful." Fortunately, that attitude has changed and people are more accepting of couples who remain unmarried. See New York Times: 51% of Women Are Now Living Without Spouse.
What Are The Advantages To My Living Together With My Boyfriend Before Marriage?
Sometimes people will fool you in a dating relationship. They conceal the Mr. Hyde part of their personality from you, something that probably won't occur if you are with them 24/7. His true personality will eventually come out and you will know what you were getting into ahead of time. You would want to know whether your potential married mate in fact has a chronic drug, alcohol or mental or emotional instability problem. Something that is entirely too easily concealed in a mere dating relationship. Also perhaps most importantly if you are living together and continue to do without marriage, you continue to work on your relationship day by day in order to preserve it, something married couples frequently forget to do.
What Is The Downside to Living Together With My Boyfriend Before Marriage?
No Commitment. That is the buzzword that you have heard. But there is an element of truth in it. Without the "for better or for worse" part of the commitment there is less reason to accept a person with all their faults.
No Commitment Means Never Commitment. It could be that your boyfriend will never commit to you exclusively and therefore you are simply wasting your time. That is certainly a downside that most people think about. Like thinking about your biological clock ticking. There is also an economic clock ticking as well: unmarried couples need time to save for their retirement or for their children, an equally important commitment. See New York Times Article: Is The Biological Clock Ticking For Men Too?
What Are The Legal Pros And Cons To Living Together With My Boyfriend Before Marriage?
A marriage is really a type of contract between two people. Not only the contract found in the marriage vows that you agree to love, honor and obey the other person, but also a contract as to what happens if there's a divorce, illness or even death. If you are married, by Illinois divorce law certain rights belong to you from that married relationship. For example, your spouse has the obligation to support you if you are unable to work. At least for a length of time in Illinois your spouse may be made to pay you maintenance.
Maintenance is only payable from one "Married spouse" to another. No cohabitors need apply. There is no palimony in Illinois. A meld of “pal” and “alimony,” palimony entered the public consciousness with the actor Lee Marvin being unsuccessfully sued by his live in “pal” for alimony.
In addition, a married Husband has a responsibility to pay his Wife's debts if they were for the necessities of life. Section 15 of the “Rights of Married Persons Act” makes spouses liable for “the expenses of the family and of the education of the children.” See Rights of Married Persons Act. A Husband has the obligation to care for disabled wife. A married Wife can inherit from her Husband even if he attempts to make a Will giving his property upon his death to someone else. See the right of renunciation of a will. A married wife has these rights, living together doesn't create such rights. See what happens to a unmarried couple when they split up. No agreement, no rules. Blumenthal v. Brewer, 2014 Il App (1st) 132250, 2014 Ill. App. LEXIS 904 (Dec. 19, 2014).
Is There Anything I Can Do To Protect Myself Legally If I Simply Live With My Boyfriend Rather Than Marry Him?
Get it in writing.
First, if you're going to share finances, bank accounts or real estate you should do a written agreement agreeing ahead of time as to what happens if there is a break up with your relationship.
Get it in writing. It sounds like small potatoes to be thinking of such things while you are in the heat of the romance, but frequently these kinds of breakups of unmarried couples are far more difficult than if they were married. The reason for that is there are rules as to how things are divided for married couples where there are no rules for unmarried couples.
Get it in writing. There's nothing wrong to putting pen to paper and having a clear understanding of what happens in your relationship should you break up. If you need an excuse to give your mate, you can always say that this is practice. Practicing the art of negotiation. If you do get married you'll have plenty of negotiating to do. It comes with the marital territory.
The best negotiators stay married the longest. Please note that I did not say the toughest negotiators. By best I mean those that can give and take and do so in a fair way that does not put down the other person. To use an over used expression: good negotiators create win-win situations. So once again get it in writing. See my blog: Cohabitation Contract: What Should Be In My Written Agreement With My Live-In Boyfriend?
Long Term Relationship for Unmarried Couples
Special note to couples that intend to spend many years together without marrying. Let's say you are one of those older couples that have already been married to someone else. That first marriage may have ended by divorce or a spouse passing away. You and your new boyfriend want to be together for the companionship as well as Mutual emotional support.
Sometimes we see couples that have been together for 10, 15 and even 20+ years! But have remained unmarried. In those situations you need to make decisions regarding letting your mate be the beneficiary of Life insurance on your life, making your mate the holder of powers of attorney such as A power of attorney for health care to make decisions regarding your future life if should you become unable to take care of yourself.
If you neglect these decisions now, this future planning, you may find yourself in a position where your mates relatives make all the decisions although you have been with that person for more than 20+ years because you have remained unmarried and you have no legal rights to any say so in your mates future.
So despite the fact that it sounds like an advertisement for our law firm, whether you use us or another law firm: get it in writing. As I have said many times if you were my daughter that's what I would tell you to do. John Martoccio, Attorney at Law.
See also Huffington post: Will Living Together Without Marriage Damage Kids?